BBC pundit Danny Mills believes Sam Johnstone will hold all the cards at the contract negotiating table with West Bromwich Albion, speaking in an interview with Football Insider.
28-year-old Johnstone is seen by many as the most valuable asset the Baggies have after Matheus Pereira’s departure and in a bid to tie him down to a long-term contract, the club have entered negotiations with the shot-stopper.
The England international was said to be on Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham United’s target list this summer, with all three on the search for a new goalkeeper and seeing the goalkeeper impress for West Brom despite their relegation last term.
Quiz: Have West Brom won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
However, Arsenal have now secured top target Aaron Ramsdale for a deal worth up t0 £30m, West Ham struck a deal with Paris St-Germain to bring former Alphonse Areola to the London Stadium after seeing a £6m bid for Johnstone rejected and Manchester United have seemingly not followed up on their initial interest.
So despite impressing England’s coaching staff during the European Championships and making an exceptional international debut against Romania at the start of June, he is likely to remain in the West Midlands until the January window at least.
The goalkeeper currently has left under 12 months left on his current deal at The Hawthorns though, meaning his current club could potentially lose him for free next summer.
Ex-Leeds United defender and pundit Danny Mills believes Johnstone could use this power to negotiate a release clause in any fresh terms agreed with the Baggies.
Speaking to Football Insider about this topic, the 44-year-old said: “If he wants a bit of security, he can just say to West Brom ‘This is where we’re at, if we don’t get promoted I can go for x, y or z. If not, I’ll just sit here and wait until the end of the season to consider my options’.
“There is a good chance he’d be in a very strong position if he did that.
“All the cards are in his hands. He can now pick and choose what suits him best and what he wants to do. He can pretty much dictate the terms of a contract.”
It’s hard to disagree with Danny Mills on this one. Considering his ability, his current contract situation and the interest he attracted earlier in the summer, Johnstone holds all the power at the negotiating table.
If the 28-year-old doesn’t get what he wants, he could easily wait until next summer to leave for free and that’s the last thing West Brom will want. To avoid this, the club may decide to agree to a potential release clause and an improved salary to retain him.
Johnstone will know the Baggies have the financial capability of giving him an improved contract after the sale of Matheus Pereira, another reason why the West Midlands side’s hand will be weakened during negotiations if they want to keep their wage bill low.
But their main priority will be to tie him down to a new deal at most (not all) costs. The potential of losing a previously £20m-rated player for nothing is a horrendous thought even with the revenue generated from Matheus Pereira’s sale, so it’s definitely a possibility we will see a reasonably low release clause inserted into any fresh terms.
It will be worth it for West Brom though, who will want to receive at least a decent chunk of money for his services.